As Kyle Beach’s story has gained more and more attention across the hockey world, one common theme has become clear: the NHL and NHLPA need to seriously change the way they handle cases of sexual assault. And leaders like Bo Horvat know it.
According to the 120 page Jenner and Block investigation published last week, Beach had twice reached out to the NHLPA and its executive director, Donald Fehr, after he was sexually assaulted by Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2010 playoffs. Beach was promised by a player assistance program doctor, Dr. Brian Shaw, that it would be taken care of. But Beach says he was never contacted by anyone from the NHLPA again afterwards.
In 2013, Aldrich was arrested and charged in a separate case after he sexually assaulted a 17-year-old student while working at a high school in Houghton, Michigan.  For their roles in covering up Aldrich’s assault on Beach, a number of high-profile 2010 Blackhawks members resigned from their respective positions this week, including GM Stan Bowman and Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville.
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When Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat was asked about the situation for the first time Tuesday afternoon, he expressed his frustration in the way everything was handled. “It’s unacceptable. It’s their job to protect us and protect the players,” Horvat said. “If it was taken care of the right way in the first place, none of this would happen again, and I think that’s the sad part.”
Horvat also made sure to commend the bravery Beach showed in his public interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead. “For him to be as brave as he did, and come out and make this public, I think is tremendous on his part,” said Horvat. “I think we’ve got to respect his privacy and him, and I couldn’t be more proud of him for doing that.”
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On Monday, Fehr apologized to Beach for the NHLPA’s inaction before meeting on a call with 80 current players to discuss what went wrong. Along with his duties as team captain, Horvat also serves as the Canucks NHLPA representative, and made it clear how important having extra safety measures in place matters.
Horvat had been on the ice for practice during the first part of Fehr’s two-hour meeting, but mentioned the executive director’s suggestion of an independent investigation into the NHLPA’s system as a good first step. “I think it is really important that we do have an investigation and get to the bottom of this and make sure that it never happens again,” Horvat said.
“Is that gonna solve everything? I don’t know. I think there’s more that we can probably do that we have to talk about. But I think it is important for guys to feel that they have somebody to go to in times like that, that their voices are gonna be heard, and that things are going to get done because they do reach out.”
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Hockey culture has notoriously struggled when it comes to dealing with major issues of player health and safety, but with the right leaders in place, that dynamic could hopefully change. In Horvat’s case, he might not have all the answers, but he’s working to make sure the Canucks’ locker room is a safe place for teammates if a case like Beach’s ever comes up. 
“Now more than ever, people are coming out and talking about mental health, and people are talking about being able to be more comfortable speaking out,” Horvat said. 
“I think that’s really important. That we have to probably change that culture and not let things just sit inside of us and actually talk about it, and tell people what’s going on.”